Historical Albion Michigan
By Frank Passic

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Any photos not otherwise credited are from the personal collection of Frank Passic, Albion Historian.

ALBION COUNTY

Morning Star, January 8, 1995, pg. 1.

Have you ever noticed that Albion seems to be "out if it" as far as political, economic, communications, and mercantile boundaries go? Albion is wedged in between two major market areas which we are left out of. No one seems to want to claim us, leaving us in a "twilight zone," so to speak.

For example, Albion has one of the few Michigan Bell Telephone exchanges in southern Michigan that cannot call at least one other community "for free" as part of a local calling area without having to pay extra. This makes the cost of business more expensive here, especially for computers "on line" to Jackson or Battle Creek. And of course Albion’s little phone book is nothing compared to Jackson’s, which "annexed" the village of Homer into the Jackson County phone book two years ago. Homer is in Calhoun County and should have been included in the Albion phone book. Homer was included for many years in the Albion City Directory, and the Homer area is covered by the Greater Albion Chamber of Commerce, not Jackson’s. We are located in the Lansing-Jackson telephone LATA, but it is long distance. On the west, that 616 area boundary keeps us cut off from the rest of Calhoun County. You can’t win.

If you shop at either Lakeview Square Mall in Battle Creek, or Westwood Mall in Jackson, Albion is poorly represented unlike other communities. We are too far from Lakeview Square Mall to competitively participate in its mall shows and displays. I remember one time seeing these jars at Lakeview Square where people could put money in for a charitable cause, and an area high school name was printed on each jar. The high school with the most money in the jar "won." Not Albion though. It wasn’t represented.

At Westwood Mall in Jackson, it is in the Jackson County Intermediate School District, making us "out sync" to participate in those activities, such as art fairs, 4-H fairs, band and talent shows, etc. that are coordinated with the JCISD. A few years ago when Paka Plaza in Jackson changed its name to Jackson Crossing, they had a display in their office window with an official map of the area showing the communities which would shop there. Albion wasn’t included on the map--but Homer was (and Homer is WEST of Albion--figure that out). The reason is they used the Michigan Bell Telephone book map of Jackson County, which doesn’t include Albion, but does include Homer. So Albion doesn’t have an official mall to be a part of.

Try finding a television station that will regularly cover Albion news. Since we are over on the other side of the Calhoun County line, the Jackson-Lansing TV stations don’t have to cover our news, because we are outside of their FFFC required "service" area. But we are inside their "coverage" area as eastern Calhoun County "juts" into their full signal. The Battle Creek-Kalamazoo stations required to cover Calhoun County, pretty much stop their featured coverage at Marshall. Albion is never the "feature city" on the 6 o’clock news. And of course Channel 3 is no longer available on our local Americable cable TV so we couldn’t see it if we wanted to.

In the printed page, several years ago Michigan History magazine featured Calhoun County as part of its ongoing series of articles on each of Michigan’s counties. The colorful article spent its entire focus on the glories of Marshall and Battle Creek. About the only thing it said about our community was quote: "...and of course, in Albion, there’s Albion College." That was it. Albion also doesn’t have a professional tourist magazine which represents it. There is a highly colorful professional tourist and business "image" magazine which is printed and distributed in Battle Creek and Marshall. But not in Albion. And in Jackson County they have a magazine, too, but of course Albion is not featured because we are in Calhoun County.

If you try and get a job in Jackson 15 miles away, the Michigan Employment Security Commission will remind you that you are "out of your job market area." Yet Battle Creek, our "legal" job market area, is 10 miles further than it is to Jackson. The Albion postal zone goes well into Jackson County, all the way to N. Concord Road, and the telephone boundary to Pennell Road.

Have you ever suspected that prices for food and gas were jacked up in Albion at our expense to make up for lower prices in Marshall, Battle Creek, and Jackson where there is more competition? Have you ever wished that trade franchise boundaries could be changed so we in Albion could benefit?

And finally, of course, there are now added costs such as legal expenses, travel expenses, and overtime wages that Albion taxpayers now have to pay for on account of the new courthouse and jail being moved to Battle Creek, as well as other facility projects in Battle Creek in the works which we won’t mention here in this column.

Should Albion citizens revolt and secede from Calhoun County and establish numerous new "boundaries" that will benefit Albion and put us on a first-class level with our neighboring cities? If we do, with our "magic wand," we’ll make Albion the "hub" of a Michigan Bell Telephone/Ameritech book, and included the communities of Homer, Springport and Concord--all toll free, of course. We’ll place Albion highway directional signs on I-94 just like Marshall has. We’ll have the FCC force area TV stations to cover Albion news on a regular basis like they do our neighboring cities. We’ll make sure suppliers and vendors charge Albion gas stations, food stores and merchants the same low prices they charge in other communities. We’ll build our own jail and courthouse. We’ll make sure that Albion is officially included at Jackson Crossing and Westwood Mall in all their school and club activity booths. And so on a so forth.

Fat chance. It’s been tried before.

In 1855, Albion and eastern Calhoun County residents apparently did not feel adequately represented, and decided that they had had it. On January 27, 1855, Albion’s state senator, Rev. William H. Brockway (Brockway Place is named for him) introduced five separate petitions to have the townships of Homer, Albion, Sheridan, and Clarence, separate from Calhoun County and form its own county. This also included annexing a portion of western Jackson County! Although unnamed, for our purposes, we’ll call this "Albion County."

Petitions calling for this action were gathered by prominent citizens, each with numerous signatures. The Michigan SenateJournal of 1855 records that David Peabody, son of Albion’s first settler Paul Tenney Peabody submitted a petition for 73 names. Henry Drake had 168 names on his petition. H. H. Barnes--44; William V. Morrison--55; Samuel V. Huxford--36; and Jesse Gardner--135.

Needless to say, this didn’t go over very well, as Calhoun and Jackson County politicians didn’t want to lose the economic benefit of having the Albion area under their jurisdiction and control. The attempt failed. There were also two petitions submitted on January 11, 1855 to merge the townships of Albion and Sheridan. This also failed.

To appease the Albion interests, the Michigan Legislature instead approved the official incorporation of the Vilage of Albion, which was sent to Governor Kinsley S. Bingham for his signature on February 5, 1855. Previously, Albion had been governed by the townships of both Albion and Sheridan, with Michigan Avenue being the dividing line.

So Albion’s current dilemma is nothing new, as our Historical Notebook this week has shown. It is interesting to go through these old law books and find fascinating tidbits of information about our community. From our Historical Notebook this week we present a photograph of our State Senator during 1855, Rev. William H. Brockway (1813-1891).


Rev. William H. Brockway.

Next: 1931 ALBION HIGH SCHOOL PRINTING CLASS


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